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Calls to Action

On the Road: Encouraging the Autism Champion in Us All

Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks, travels the country advocating for families and individuals facing the challenges of autism. This is the second post from her "On The Road For Autism Reform" blog.

I spent time in a couple of my favorite cities during the past week: Washington, D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina.

In D.C., I had many meetings, including a great breakfast meeting with Matt Thrasher, a military autism dad and former student in my “Autism and the Law” class at GW Law School. Matt is working on a law review essay regarding autism and the Affordable Care Act, and I enjoyed catching up with him.

Lorri with Matt Thrasher.

In Charleston, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Lowcountry Autism Forum, a free, all-day conference that was attended by 500+ people (see I gave a keynote presentation called “Autism Coverage for Everyone” on Saturday morning and received this heartwarming email a few days later:

Hi Mrs. Unumb, I had the pleasure of hearing you speak—so very eloquently I might add, at the Conference/Lowcountry Autism Forum this past weekend. Instead of being somewhat defeated, I was encouraged to again, pick the mantle for our son, Christopher and start advocating for him again. He is a delightful 12 y.old who has been diagnosed as autistic and I was truly challenged by a number of things that you said and aptly pointed out-that maybe we can still make a difference for Christopher, even with him being 12 y.old, I’m trusting we can provide some positive, practical supports to have him reach his full potential.

Since we are located in Columbia, we are looking in to the Autism Academy and will tour the facility this Thursday. I just wanted to send you a quick note to thank you for encouraging and reigniting that fire underneath me , thanks I needed that!

You are truly a champion and an advocate, in the true sense of the word. Thank you many times over! Who would have thought that from this past weekend, such knowledge an inspiration would have come from me being in the audience while you spoke.

Sincerely, Jackie Patterson

Thank YOU, Jackie. Messages like yours remind me why I love my job with Autism Speaks and feel honored to be “on the road to autism insurance reform”!

Here are some great images from the Lowcountry Autism Forum.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.